How long is long enough? That's always the question toward the end of any match when one side is trying to, as they say, take time off the clock.
In the 82nd minute of the Houston Dynamo's scoreless draw away to the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, Dynamo right back Kofi Sarkodie took too long for referee Armando Villarreal’s liking and was shown a second yellow.
It was a decision that didn't sit well with Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear.
“If that’s delay of game, there could be yellow cards handed out to a number of people that stand in front of the ball on free kicks or who take forever to get a throw in,” Kinnear said after the game. “How that’s a second yellow to me is a bit of a surprise.
“We are trying to take free kicks, guys will run 20 yards to come stand on the ball and slow the play down. It is just the same amount of time, it is just a different situation, and I think it's unfair, but that is the way the referee saw it, that is the way he called it.”
Replays indicate that Villarreal blows his whistle in Sarkodie's direction, as if to hurry him up, just seconds before showing him the second caution.
“Normally you see the ref warn a guy before he gives him a yellow for that kind of thing but MLS is cracking down on these types of things,” center back David Horst told MLSsoccer.com.
Furthermore, there is a case to be made that the Dynamo had no reason to stall at that point in the match. After all, the score was still tied, and the Dynamo were still looking to launch last-minute attacks, though they were losing the possession battle in the 10 minutes leading up to Sarkodie's ejection.
On a positive note, the Dynamo held on for the road point despite going down to 10 men, a far cry from the result two weeks ago after Horst was red-carded against FC Dallas. On that day, Houston conceded three goals in the span of 10 minutes after the dismissal.
“There’s nothing we can do about [Sarkodie's second yellow]," Horst said. "It’s just one more step for us this season with a little adversity thrown our way. I think the guys handled it well.”
The Dynamo have little time to contemplate their lot, as they have a quick turnaround before taking on the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday evening -- without their starting right back.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.